LONDON (AP) – Chelsea signing Juanma Mata credited Spain teammate Fernando Torres in helping sway him to join the Premier League club.
Mata signed a five-year contract Wednesday after Chelsea paid Valencia a reported ?30 million ($43 million) for the forward, a member of Spain's World Cup-winning squad with Torres.
''When he knew they were interested in signing me, he spoke with me and told me that playing abroad could be a very nice step for me,'' Mata said Wednesday. ''It's a new endeavor in my life, to develop personally and professionally. So I think I took the most logical decision.''
The 23-year-old Mata, who could make his debut against Norwich on Saturday, believes he will suit the style of play favored by new Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas.
''He said he wanted Chelsea this season to play more attacking football, and that I would be a big part of that,'' Mata said. ''Villas-Boas is someone who won almost everything last year and we are both here with the idea of winning lots this season.
''The plan is that I can play on either flank or even in the middle playing in between the lines of midfield and attack. I like to keep the ball and use it well, I am an attacking player and above all I like to set up goals and score them also.''
Mata said he ''never imagined himself leaving'' Valencia but only agreed as the offer was too good for the Spanish club to pass up.
''I spoke with (president) Manuel Llorente since I wanted to know if the offer was a good help for the club in economic terms,'' said Mata, last season's captain. ''I came in at zero cost and I leave a lot of money behind.''
Valencia, one of Spain's most heavily indebted clubs, has made approximately ?145 million ($209 million) in transfers since 2009, with Spain internationals David Villa, David Silva and Raul Albiol bringing in the bulk of those fees.
Despite the exodus of the club's top stars, the Spanish club has finished third behind Barcelona and Madrid the past two seasons and remains in the Champions League.
Mata joined Valencia in 2007 after a season in Real Madrid's ''B'' team and made an immediate impact, scoring 45 goals in 172 appearances for the Mediterranean coast club. He also won one Copa del Rey in four seasons at Valencia.
''I can only give thanks to the club for trusting in me as a 19-year-old who came over from a second-division club,'' Mata said. ''It was difficult for a club like Valencia and its need to get results to trust a young kid, but they did.''